USCIS Temporarily Waiving 60-Day Rule for Civil Surgeon Signatures
On December 9, 2021, USCIS announced that it would be temporarily waiving the requirement that a civil surgeon signature sign Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, within sixty (60) days of filing an application for an underlying immigration benefit.
Form I-693 is the immigration form used to establish that a non-citizen is free from any conditions that would render them inadmissible to the United States on public health grounds.
Form I-693 is typically seen in conjunction with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (green card applications). Ordinarily, a USCIS case officer may determine that a non-citizen applicant has met the burden of proof required to establish that he or she is free from a medical condition that would render the applicant inadmissible on health-related grounds if all of the following criteria are met:
A USCIS-designated civil surgeon performed the immigration medical examination in accordance with HHS regulations;
The civil surgeon and the applicant properly completed the current version of Form I-693;
The Form I-693 that the applicant submitted is signed by a civil surgeon no more than 60 days before the date the applicant filed an application for the underlying immigration benefit;
The Form I-693 establishes that the applicant does not have a Class A medical condition and has complied with the vaccination requirements or is granted a waiver; and
USCIS issues a decision on the underlying immigration benefit application no more than 2 years after the date the civil surgeon signed Form I-693.
In general, if any one of the above criteria is not met, the non-citizen applicant has not met the burden of proof required to establish that he or she is free of a medical condition that would render the applicant inadmissible to the United States on health-related grounds. As a result, the application for an underlying immigration benefit may be denied or, alternatively, a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) may be issued to address the deficiency.
The December 9, 2021 announcement by USCIS only affects the third prong in the list above – affecting individuals who had their immigration medical exam prior to filing their application for an immigration benefit.
Ordinarily, medical exams that have taken place more than sixty (60) days prior to the filing of the application would be invalid. However, with this new guidance, USCIS had indicated that they will accept completed Form I-693’s, even if the civil surgeon signed them more than sixty (60) days prior. Note that this guidance does not excuse a non-citizen applicant from complying with all other Form I-693 requirements.
USCIS has noted that this temporary waiver is meant to address non-citizen applicants who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and related processing delays, which, in turn, have caused delays in completing the immigration medical examination. This waiver will allow individuals to complete the application process without the need to undergo another immigration medical examination if Form I-693 is otherwise valid.
USCIS also notes that this temporary benefit “will benefit many applicants, including Afghan nationals evacuated under Operation Allies Welcome who have completed immigration medical examinations at government-run facilities but were not able to apply for adjustment of status within 60 days of the completed examination.”
Per USCIS, this waiver will be in effect until September 30, 2022.
This is not the first accommodation USCIS has made with respect to Form I-693. Earlier this year, USCIS temporarily extending the validity period for Form I-693 from two years to now four years due to COVID-19-related delays in processing.
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Here at The Law Office of George K. Gomez, our immigration attorneys are keeping up to date with the latest USCIS regulations and case law updates so we can provide our clients with the best legal representation possible. Should you have questions regarding Form I-693 or any other immigration matter, our immigration attorneys can evaluate your case and help determine your best path moving forward.
For more information, visit The Law Office of George K. Gomez, P.A. on the web at www.gomezlawfirm.org or contact us for a consultation with an Immigration Attorney in Miami-Dade County, FL. Our telephone number is (305) 539-0991.